Quarterback Marc Wilson has mixed emotions about being released by the Los Angeles Raiders, but retains a positive outlook.
Wilson, who earned $4 million during the last five years as the NFL team's sometimes starter, was surprised by the team's decision Friday night."It's a bittersweet feeling," Wilson said from his home near Seattle. "I was looking forward to playing with the new coaching staff and the new offense. But this also opens up new opportunities."
Team spokesman Mike Orenstein announced Friday night that the Raiders would not renew their option on Wilson.
Wilson, whose salary was $1 million when the Raiders stumbled to 5-10 last year, said the Raiders made a qualifying contract offer by the spring deadline, but did not follow up when it was necessary to renew contracts on June 1.
"As I understand it, they have to send you a letter on June 1 saying you can have the last written contract offer, or renew your contract for 110 percent of last year," Wilson said. "The Raiders did neither."
Wilson, 31, began the 1987 season as the backup to Rusty Hilger, but became the Raiders' starter for the final seven games. He had shared starting duties with Jim Plunkett for most of the previous four seasons.
Wilson was the Raiders' first-round draft choice in 1980 from Brigham Young University.
He became the highest-paid Raider in 1983 when he signed a $4 million, five-year deal to end bidding with the now defunct USFL. Wilson and a number of other NFL clients of agent Howard Slusher had been wooed by Donald Trump, owner of the USFL's New Jersey Generals.
The Raiders elevated Wilson to the starting role despite a 5-2 record under Plunkett, then signed him to the richest NFL contract to that date before a game at Dallas.
Wilson's tenure as starter lasted only three games before he suffered a broken shoulder. Plunkett returned and led the Raiders to victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl 18.
Wilson started 10 games in 1984.
In 1985, he led the Raiders to the AFC Western Division title after taking over for the injured Plunkett in the third game. Los Angeles went 11-2 from that point, winning its final six games, but was upset by New England in the playoffs.
Wilson opened the first eight games of 1986, when the Raiders finished 8-8 to start their current demise.
Ironically, 1987 was Wilson's best statistical season. He finished fifth among AFC passers, completing 155 of 266 passes (7.1 percent) for 2,070 yards, with 12 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
However, he became a target of the fans during the previous three years, when he threw more interceptions than touchdowns. His career interceptions outnumber his TD passes, 86 to 77.
Plunkett has said he would like to play another season, but has not been offered a contract.
During the Raiders' recent mini-camp, Vince Evans was assigned to the first unit, second-year player Steve Beuerlein to the second squad while Hilger was relegated to the third team.